2005 Spotlight: Jose Garcia

<I>Inside Carolina</I> introduces sophomore Jose Garcia, the talented 2004 shooting guard who unofficially visited Chapel Hill last weekend and sat courtside at the UNC-Duke game.

He may be new to the United States of America and he hasn't been playing basketball all that long just yet, but Jose Garcia from Holy Cross Regional Catholic in Lynchburg, Va. probably already knows where he wants to play his college basketball.

And that's in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"Oh yeah," said Holy Cross head coach John Bumgarner, "he's seen the games and he knows all about the ACC. I'd say that he really almost has his mind made up to play in the ACC. He loves the style of play, he loves the atmosphere and he's already been to visit several of the campuses."

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard has unofficially visited Virginia, NC State and North Carolina. And he was spotted on Sunday behind the UNC bench for the Heel's upset victory over Duke. Bumgarner believes that the Smith Center left quite an impression on the star sophomore.

"He had a great time, he just loved the environment down there," said Bumgarner. "He really likes UNC a lot. Coming from another country -- he already had an idea of how [special] it was at UNC."

Garcia, who is originally from Angola -- a west African country noted for it's violent civil wars and impoverished living conditions -- hasn't had the easiest life thus far as both of his parents were murdered in his native country. Then he found his way to Belgium with his sister where he learned to love and play the game of basketball. And eventually, this past August -- the athletic wing guard made his way to Lynchburg where he was the star player for Bumgarner's squad.

"Life definitely hasn't been the easiest for him," said Bumgarner, "but he's a good kid and he's a smart kid."

Smart enough to be able to speak six languages now, according to the head coach.

On the court -- Garcia is noted for his shooting touch and his scoring skills. Against a very talented Benedictine squad earlier this season, the 17-year-old sophomore dropped 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. He also dished out nearly double-digit assists in two other games this season.

Bumgarner thinks that his ability to be a team player may be his most overlooked skill.

"To be quite honest, I think his best strength is his ability to create for his teammates," said Bumgarner. " He really knows how to pass the ball. And of course he can flat out stroke it from anywhere on the floor. He can really shoot the ball, no doubt."

"When he got here last August, he was about 6-3 and 175 pounds, but since then, he's put on some size and he's now about 6-4 and about 200 pounds. He's got a really strong body -- especially arms and chest wise."

On the scholarship front -- Bumgarner says that no one has offered just yet, but that interest from several ACC schools have been noticed.

"Well, NC State really wants him. Florida State has been up to see him and UNC sent someone to see him as well. I've received several letters and media packets for Jose from Doug Wojcik at UNC," added Bumgarner.

As to whether Garcia plays at Holy Cross again next year? That's still up in the air, but he's looking into several different options from Hargrave, Benedictine, Oak Hill and some schools in the New Jersey area.

"We'd like to have him here again next year, but we'll see what happens," said Bumgarner.

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